World News

Eight in 10 British firms interested in coronavirus furlough scheme: ONS

LONDON (Reuters) – Around eight of every 10 British companies are interested in the government’s offer to pay 80% of the wages of staff who are temporarily laid off, according to a survey published by the country’s official statistics office.

About 70% of companies expressed interest in another part of the government’s coronavirus emergency plan – deferring payments of value-added tax, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.

The survey of more than 6,000 companies was conducted between March 23 and April 5 and its headline findings were first published last week.

The ONS on Thursday gave more details of the survey, which included a finding that 82% of firms in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector had paused trading, compared with around 25% for companies across the economy as a whole.

Almost two-thirds of businesses that were continuing to trade said their turnover was lower than normal.

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce and Timothy Heritage)